Investing in Precious Metals 101 Ad
  • Podcast

    Dr. Charles Hall: The Laws Of Nature Trump Economics

    It's all about Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI)
    by Adam Taggart

    Monday, March 5, 2018, 5:59 PM

Dr. Charles Hall may not be a name you instantly recognize, but it should be.

Now a Professor Emeritus of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Dr. Hall is a rigorous researcher of energy, oil, biophysical economics — and was a critical early pioneer in developing the key resource metric of Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI).

Here's how Hall describes EROEI in layman's terms:

These energy investment ideas are everywhere in nature.

Certainly business people know about investments, but you've got to realize that anytime that you're investing, you investing not only money, you're investing energy. And, in fact, we consider money to be a lien on energy, a promissory note on energy.

So, if, for example, you buy in New York City a bagel for $1, that bagel cannot possibly get there without the use of a considerable amount of energy. And that energy is, for example, energy used in Louisiana to take natural gas and turn it into nitrogen fertilizer. And then it's put in a barge and barged up  the Mississippi River to Nebraska. And then a tractor spreads in on a field. And then it plows up the field and plants wheat seeds. And then later comes along and tills the soil and maybe takes care of the weeds or whatever and certainly harvests it. And then more energy is used to take the harvested wheat and grind it up and turn it into flour. And then they put it in a sack and put it on a railroad train and ship it to New York City. And there somebody boils a pot of water to cook the bagel. Oh, and they use electricity to mix the batter. And then you have a bagel.

That would not have taken place without the use of energy at every step.

And that same is true for everything that goes on in our economy. Everything that goes on in our economy requires energy for it to take place. And so we've examined that for a long, long time. Using the concept of energy return on investment and then later we've developed this into a whole approach called biophysical economics.

After a life's career of looking at the world through the lens of EROEI, Hall is very concerned that, as a global society, we are hurtling towards an energy crisis that will forcefully (and likely painfully) downshift our standard of living within the lifetime of the current generation. And yet, our current economic models remain blind to the possibility of resource limits — so we are highly likely to be caught completely unprepared by this approaching crisis:

Economics is practiced in the United States as a social science. When I first looked into economics I was astonished that it's not consistent with the law of conservation of energy nor the second law of thermodynamics nor the laws of conservation of mass. All of those things do not enter into the basic economic models. In fact, the basic economic models, as far as I'm concerned, just make no sense if you have a background in the natural sciences(…)

I think that we're likely be really blindsided by the decline of oil and gas in near future. The people who have examined the long-term future of fossil fuel availability predict this well within a generation. We're probably going to be faced by severe restrictions in all of our fossil fuels – in oil, in gas, and even coal. We may live in interesting energy times(..)

It's just astonishing what I read in newspapers about people who don’t understand the importance of resources and the physical world in everything we do. Now, it is true, there has been a pretty health dose of examining climate and its relation to economics, and I think that's good. But
I think that's, at most, half the story because I think resource limitations are likely to be at least as important as climate change going into the future, and then we have to think about them at least as much as we have been doing with climate. We have to think about the resource issues much better than we have.

Somehow people think the resource issues have been resolved by the market, but that's not true at all, although, you know, I guess as long as the price of gasoline is fairly cheap, people don’t worry. They think the issue's been resolved. The issue has not been resolved at all. The Limits To Growth and everything associated with that – they're not been proven wrong. One might argue that their timing was not on the money, that things that are taking a little bit longer than was anticipated, but that doesn't mean that the chickens aren't coming home to roost. And I see them coming home rapidly and especially in the poorer countries of the world – they're just getting creamed by the interaction of population growth and resource limitations. And depletion of oil wells and depletion of soils and on and on and on. It's just a terrible situation for many countries.

Those interested in learning more about Dr. Hall's work after listening to this podcast should consider purchasing his new book Energy and the Wealth of Nations; An Introduction to Biophysical Economics

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Dr. Charles Hall (61m:23s).

Related content
» More

52 Comments

  • Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - 2:37pm

    #1

    AKGrannyWGrit

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2011

    Posts: 450

    Thunbs Up Interview

    Dr. Hall described himself as being “well trained” which generally doesn’t impress me.  However, Dr. Hall is not only well trained he has common sense, is a deep thinker and has a sense of humor as well.  A delightful interview with an “oh shit” kind of message.  Would welcome an interview with Dr. Hall anytime and will check out his book.

    Great choice!

    AKGrannyWGrit

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - 3:52pm

    #2

    Brunel

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 26 2015

    Posts: 32

    Dr. Tim Morgan

    A very good discussion and no disrespect to Dr. Hall but I’d really appreciate it if you could ask Dr. Tim Morgan on another podcast to discuss EROEI and the development of his own SEEDS appraisal.

    His work “Perfect Storm” at Tullett Prebon and subsequent publications (“Life After Growth”, “SEEDS” etc.) are my go-to resources whenever EROEI are mentioned.  The bloke’s a genius – find him, hunt him down with hounds if necessary…. he’s worth his weight in gold!!

    Nobody has the answers or a timeline – but Tim Morgan has more understanding of EROEI than anyone else (IMHO!).

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - 4:46pm

    Reply to #1
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 514

    My thoughts exactly, Granny!

    Just one of the many things to get your knickers-in-a-knot over. However, I tend to be more sanguine (sorry, if I repeat myself):


    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - 10:33pm

    #3

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Online)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3109

    spain's solar EROEI

    I’d be curious to see how the EROEI analysis on Spain’s solar plants change as we reduce the costs on the panels.  The wiki page on Spain says that half of the panels were installed by 2008, back when panels were about $3.20 per watt, and now they’ve dropped to $0.50 per watt.  Of course a lot of the costs of a solar plant isn’t the panels – but certainly a fair amount of it is.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Spain

    So would an 85% reduction in panel costs end up doubling the EROEI?  Less?  More?

    And how about rooftop solar?  No need for transmission, fences, etc.

    A lot of these analysis were done back in the days of Oil Drum.  I’d like to see them updated for the latest cost structures.

    Ideally we get a spreadsheet where we can play with the cells ourselves!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 3:55am

    Reply to #2

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4505

    No Morgan Interview

    Brunel wrote:

    A very good discussion and no disrespect to Dr. Hall but I’d really appreciate it if you could ask Dr. Tim Morgan on another podcast to discuss EROEI and the development of his own SEEDS appraisal.

    His work “Perfect Storm” at Tullett Prebon and subsequent publications (“Life After Growth”, “SEEDS” etc.) are my go-to resources whenever EROEI are mentioned.  The bloke’s a genius – find him, hunt him down with hounds if necessary…. he’s worth his weight in gold!!

    Nobody has the answers or a timeline – but Tim Morgan has more understanding of EROEI than anyone else (IMHO!).

    Tim Morgan heavily “borrowed” from the entire crash course book and video series (ideas, graphics, flow, and phrases) for his ‘perfect storm’ report and then failed to attribute anything to myself or Peak Prosperity.  This was not inadvertent, but happened after he’d found the Crash Course, congratulated me on it by email, and asked a few follow up questions.

    Later when a book of his came out it turned out that he did this same thing to several other authors (lifting and “borrowing” without attribution, passing off the ideas, phrases and graphics as his own), two of whom contacted me to see if I was interested in joining an action they were planning to take against the publisher to force a retraction or even recall of all outstanding books.  The plagiarism was extensive and obvious.

    I am a very forgiving person, but proper attribution is a must in my world, and I can’t really bring myself to shine light on Mr. Morgan even though his message is the same as mine.

    I suppose I should be sincerely flattered by the imitation, and thankful that however inelegantly it was done the Crash Course message was picked up and carried elsewhere, and I am on some levels, but I’m still not terribly interested in promoting Morgan’s career.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 4:28am

    Reply to #3

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4505

    A more recent solar ERoEI analysis

    davefairtex wrote:

    I’d be curious to see how the EROEI analysis on Spain’s solar plants change as we reduce the costs on the panels.  The wiki page on Spain says that half of the panels were installed by 2008, back when panels were about $3.20 per watt, and now they’ve dropped to $0.50 per watt.  Of course a lot of the costs of a solar plant isn’t the panels – but certainly a fair amount of it is.

    I talked about this next solar EroEI analysis in the podcast, but it was revealing enough to me that I should include it here.

    I found this recent study to be quite extensive and treading on some new ground, after building off of Hall’s work as well as many others.

    The major features are that you have to use real results, not calculated (face plate) potential returns of solar systems.  In the temperate regions, where a lot of solar is installed, it turns out that the down time is significant (because of clouds, low sun angle for half the year, etc.) and that when you add it al up these authors discovered that the ERoEI return for solar is below 1.

    For those with the passion for it, this study is a great read because it fully explores the extended boundaries that have to be included for a full life cycle ERoEI analysis.  Examples include the ‘upstream’ costs of generating purified silicon, shipping the modules from plant to installation site, etc.

    Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation

    July 2016

    (Lots and lots of geeky math and explorations of study boundaries removed here…)

    Conclusion

    The calculated value for ERoEI is dimensionless, constituting the energy return (2203 kW he/m2) divided by the energy invested (2664 kW he/m2) – a ratio of 0.82.

    It is estimated that these numbers could have an error of ±15%, so that, despite a string of optimistic choices resulting in low values of energy investments, the ERoEI is significantly below 1.

    In other words, an electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink or a non-sustainable NET ENERGY LOSS. The methodology recommended by the expert working group of the IEA appears to yield EROI levels which lie between 5 and 6, but which are really not meaningful for determining the efficiency, sustainability and affordability of an energy source. The main conclusions to be drawn are:

    • The result of rigorously calculating the “extended ERoEI” for regions of moderate insolation levels as experienced in Switzerland and Germany proves to be very revealing. It indicates that, at least at today’s state of development, the PV technology cannot offer an energy source but a NET ENERGY LOSS, since its ERoEIEXT is not only very far from the minimum value of 5 for sustainability suggested by Murphy and Hall (2011), but is less than 1.
    • Our advanced societies can only continue to develop if a surplus of energy is available, but it has become clear that photovoltaic energy at least will not help in any way to replace the fossil fuel. On the contrary we find ourselves suffering increased dependence on fossil energy. Even if we were to select, or be forced to live in a simpler, less rapidly expanding economic environment, photovoltaic technology would not be a wise choice for helping to deliver affordable, environmentally favourable and reliable electricity regions of low, or even moderate insolation, since it involves an extremely high expenditure of material, human and capital resources.
    • Research and development should however, be continued in order in future to have more efficient conversion from sunlight to electricity and a cheaper, more reliable PV-technology offering increased efficiency and a longer, failure-free lifetime. The market will then develop naturally.

    ++++++++++

    While there’s a lot of methodology involved, the summary table of the primary energy inputs for temperate latitude solar installations gives an indication of where the pressure points lie if we are to substantially improve solar’s possible gains.

    In summary, ‘cheaper’ panels is not going to solve anything if cheaper does not also means ‘substantially less energy went into their construction.’

    Also, even if the energy input into the components dropped to zero, according to the above table that would only account for about half of the energy costs and so the ERoEI of solar would then only rise to a little less than 2.

    Perhaps there’s a lot wrong with this analysis, I cannot say.  But if there were serious policy makers in the world, they’d immediately fund an even more exhaustive study to determine if this is true or not.  Why?  Because “investing” tons of public money into solar is a public policy disaster if the EroEI is below 1.  Heck, probably a disaster and a waste if it’s below 3, or even 5. 

    We just don’t know, and that’s the issue.  We really should.  It’s among the most important questions of our era.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 4:41am

    #4

    Phaedrus the younger

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 21 2013

    Posts: 12

    strong interview, with a headscratcher..

    Enjoyed the discussion very much and highly respect Dr Hall’s immense contributions to the field!   Excellent choice.

    The head scratcher for me was their use of $’s (fiat currency) as the proxy for “energy in”.  It seems pretty loose to use a measure that is inherently volatile and subject to all kinds of short and long term forces.  Compounding this currency volatility, as Dave Fairtex observed above, the price of components also are subject to a life-cycle where the cost of new products are high until maturity and scale are reached. 

    Given all that, it would seem helpful to attempt to normalize the proxy measure to minimize all this noise so that the EROEI that isn’t a ‘point in time’ measure.  Although harder to get at, using joules, watts or BTUs would seem to be a materially better way to determine EROEI.   Perhaps I’m missing something.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 5:08am

    #5

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Online)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3109

    insolation

    So a rough calculation shows that southern california has about double the insolation level of Germany.  Presumably, that puts the EROEI at – perhaps – 1.6.  Still not great from a society point of view.

    If we toss them on a roof instead of onto the grid, that helps.  Likewise, if they are used to charge up your electric car, there’s no need to worry about intermittent issues since your car itself is the buffer.

    Is it wrong to assume that the production $$ cost is a “rough overall proxy for the energy going into production?”   Certainly it reduces capital costs, which definitely helps EROEI.

    It is interesting to note that while a panel is $0.50/watt right now, the all-in cost for rooftop solar is $3.20/watt.  Panel costs are a small factor at this point.

    Might I ask why solar and wind are – perceived – as beating natural gas from the viewpoint of new power generation?  Is that all about subsidies?  Certainly the vast bulk of new installations are solar and wind – so much so that it has single-handedly caused GE stock to crash.  Apparently the sale of the gas generating plants has fallen through the floor, much to the surprise of the GE executives.

    From the standpoint of “self-insurance against rising electric prices during a time of possible future fossil fuel scarcity” (and as an alternate power source for your electric car/bike/goped), solar seems like a no-brainer investment for an individual.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 5:29am

    #6
    macro2682

    macro2682

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2009

    Posts: 316

    Madness of men...

    I wouldn’t want to live in it, but I could imagine a world where energy at least begins to separate from economic production.  Perhaps “tools” like VR take off in a social revolution.  What starts as an expansion in telecommuting becomes a cultural vice for avatars and ‘non real’ products to adorn people in their virtual world.  The opioid epidemic and social media revolution show that we are ready for this kind of sad existence.  The real world would just be a handful of pop culture characters and politicians.  Robots do the manufacturing, and the value add jobs are virtual.  The wasteful consumption of consumer products would be virtual as well.  There are certainly some solutions out there for food production (aquaponics) but that’s probably the hardest industry to develope. I’m sure we would have years of falling diet quality before we turn to solutions like that. 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 6:04am

    #7

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 465

    Limits to Growth Did Not.Miss by Much

    Considering the infancy of computer modeling, in the early 1970s, Limits to Growth was unbelievably accurate, so far.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 8:16am

    #8
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 514

    So what's the backup plan, Chris?

    I happen to be fortunate that I live in an area blessed with an abundance of fossil fuels and forests. I can supplement my heating bill by burning wood, using dead fall or infected trees rather than healthy stands of available source wood. The ERoEI for these trees is fantastic, from a human perspective. However, there are bigger issues that can exacerbate the predicament facing the planet. Take you pick from the list. Here is just one that has a potentially huge effect on the future direction of where to invest our time and money; if we have enough time! This can apply to any part of the country facing the effects of climate change. I’m sure we can afford the 2 + minutes for more revelation! Enjoy?

    https://globalnews.ca/news/2666423/albertas-hot-dry-forests-face-major-threat-from-miniature-bugs/

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 8:36am

    Reply to #3

    Matt Holbert

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 03 2008

    Posts: 67

    ERoEI on Passive Solar

    First a housekeeping note… Return is misspelled in the title of the article…

    I noticed the other (sunny) day that the solar panels on the local food coop were covered with snow. Obviously they were not functioning or someone would have cleared the snow. This same store is certified LEED platinum or gold but the designer placed the checkout stands too close the the entrance/exit doors. The doors open and shut continually as customers check out. Apparently (I asked) they could not adjust the sensor on the doors. Bottom line: this one common sense item voided all of the energy savings from the rest of the store. It should be noted that the ability to get the LEED certification in the first place was made possible due to the largess of someone who had the good fortune to be the (sole?) nephew of the childless co-founder of UPS. If we truly lived sustainably there would not even be a need — or a dramatically reduced need — for delivery services such as UPS. Most of what we do with respect to sustainablity is at the margins only.

    It doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that passive solar has a far higher ERoEI than using solar panels. On a sunny 20 degree or so day (when there are no “contrails”) my house temperature will increase from the set temperature of 63 degrees to 69 or 70 degrees without the furnace coming on. However, my observation is that very few people open the blinds on their south facing windows. (Possibly because all their neighbors and folks passing by can see what drivel they are watching on TV. Screens are so big that I can easily determine what the neighbor 100 feet across the street is watching.) We’ll only have “serious policy makers” when people wake up to the fact that our future is so screwed.

    On a related topic… Is anyone aware of a study that has looked into how detrimental “contrails” are to plant yields?

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 8:57am

    Reply to #8

    Matt Holbert

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 03 2008

    Posts: 67

    The backup plan...

    Uncletommy-

    I saw this link (https://globalnews.ca/news/4045344/vancouver-lamborghini-snow-dirvers/) when looking at your globalnews link. The backup plan can be found in the last photo of the article. Bicycles.

    My spouse is Canadian and was living in Kamloops BC when we got married 30 years ago. It has been stunning to see the devastation of the pines in the area. One used to be able to look in any direction and see a forest of green. No longer. All the trees have died and been logged. I’m somewhat surprised that we have not been impacted here in Spokane.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 9:37am

    #9
    skipr

    skipr

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 09 2016

    Posts: 122

    the massive elephant in the room

    Everyone keeps dancing around the gigantic elephant in the room: overpopulation.  It’s my opinion that planet earth is massively over populated with us “humanoids” and a 90% reduction would still not be enough since the oceanic life has already been reduced by roughly the same amount.  When I fly over the midwest I see every square inch covered with farms.  What do think will happen when the ground water and fossil fuels (aka fertilizer) finally runs out?  A while back I read that the state of Vermont was almost completely clearcut 100 years ago for charcoal, and that was with a much smaller population.  One way or another there will be a depopulation.  It’s our choice whether we do it in the least painful (and economically most painful) way. 

    Our present lifestyle and economy is like a Keynesian ecology.  Keep “printing” people until the entire planet goes bankrupt (aka sterile).

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 12:12pm

    #10
    peroron2000

    peroron2000

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 05 2011

    Posts: 1

    It seems like we have been hearing this for a while

    Hello,

    I am just a casual observer to the peak oil/ peak energy story. I first became interested in the topic back in 2006 When I discovered movies that introduced the concept of peak oil.  This lead me to books such as the Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler and Peak Everything by Richard Heinberg as well as many others.  All of these videos and books seemed to all claim that an energy crisis was just around the corner and that very soon we would be seeing energy shortages and shocks to the system etc.  

    At first these stories seemed to be playing out as predicted such as when oil went up to $147/barrel in 2008.  But then, the prices dropped back down and they seem to have stayed there ever since.

    During this time, these advocates seem to all continue to say that a crisis is looming over the next horizon.  At first it was 2010, then 2012 then 2015 now we are here in 2018 and the trains seems to continue on.

    Can anyone tell me why this seems to be the case?  Is this a case of needing to sell books and videos and therefore needing to scare people into being interested?

    I just wish that I felt like the story could somehow be more accurately tied to the data.  I think all of these books and videos would have been just as effective if they said this is a problem that is coming and we will start to see the effects in 2020 or 2030 or whenever the real crisis is likely to hit us.

    I feel that if that were how it was presented, a person could then feel more confident preparing for it.

    At the moment it seems like preparing may just be a waste of effort and resources.

    Does anyone else feel this way?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 1:04pm

    Reply to #9

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 465

    skipr wrote: Everyone keeps

    skipr wrote:

    Everyone keeps dancing around the gigantic elephant in the room: overpopulation.  It’s my opinion that planet earth is massively over populated with us “humanoids” and a 90% reduction would still not be enough…

    No, most at Peak Prosperity don’t dance around overshoot. I believe you are addressing this criticism to the wrong group.

     I certainly don’t.  My opinion on the subject was published two days ago in the Arizona Star (Tucson).  

    However, I would argue that the Earth can still support more than the 750 million that you propose, granted at a much more conservative lifestyle.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 3:27pm

    Reply to #3

    shastatodd

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 16 2010

    Posts: 46

    A More Recent Solar ERoEI Analysis... from experience.

    many people think we can mitigate the “Limits to Growth” with technology, but that is a fool’s errand we attempt at our own demise. the reality is that “magic green” intermittent energy capturing devices cannot exist without the underlying, unsustainable, fossil fuel powered, mining and manufacturing industrial infrastructure.

    i just finished a 35 year career designing, installing AND MAINTAINING solar electric systems and i can assure you they are neither “green” or “renewable”. most people promoting “clean, green” solar, have not lived with it long enough to experience the lifecycle costs. in my personal case, my oldest working module is from 1987. it is severely delaminated but still making usable power and is a part of my grid tied with battery backup system… BUT there is the issue of the mean time between failure of inverters which is around 5 to 7 years. batteries and charge controllers also have similar, finite lifetime realities. if i had to pay for someone to do the repairs, the system would never make enough money in reduced power bills (@ .17/kWh) to pay for the ongoing maintenance.

    so basically a typical solar electric system is a bunch of expensive, high tech, fossil fuel created equipment that every few years needs more expensive, high tech, fossil fuel created replacement parts to keep operational. 

    another sad reality is solar retailers and installers make more money installing larger systems, which incentives waste. add to this is the fact that no one is interested in reducing their consumption or changing their behavior, so energy audits are a thing of the past. this means solar is basically about enabling waste and justifying non-negotiable lifestyles. 

    that being said, while incredibly expensive to purchase and maintain (a clear net loss), i do enjoy the resiliency they provide our “lifeboat”. without solar pv, in a “no-grid” scenario, we would not be able to pump water for food growing operations.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 5:13pm

    Reply to #3
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 19 2016

    Posts: 149

    solar life span

    I think this varies alot. What has been your experience on reliability ? Did the better inverters last longer than the new ones made overseas ? What about solar panels ? So, given your experience, has anything stood out as being overall much better or overall much worse ?

     

    My system was installed in 1998, and is doing great. The original panels are Astro Power ( the cells are made from reject wafers from semiconductor manufacturing), the inverter is a Trace SW4048 and the charge controller is Trace. Maybe I have been lucky, or maybe this era of products is especially durable. You are right that the main benefit would be water pumping in a long term grid down, although it would be cheaper to just have a dedicated panel direct to a DC well pump if someone did not have a system yet. I changed out the well pump when I did this to be a 120V lower horse power pump that runs great off of the inverter. My system was put in when smaller system were being done as my original panels were 24 of the Astropower panels, for 2.4kW label, which was considered 2kW actual. About 9 years ago I added a couple evergreen panels and another charge controller for the 2nd input to the inverter, only 3 panels which is total 630W label rating.

    Batteries generally do not last. One and a half years ago I upgraded to a new, long lived battery technology, Aquion. These batteries have little environmental downside, no weird metals, etc…. are very robust in terms of temperature and can be run down to almost no charge. This particular battery technology could be rebuilt easily, so last forever, as the thing that wears out is the synthetic cotton layers in the cells, the cells come apart easily and these could be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the company did not have enough funding to get thru the initial growth phase, and they are not in manufacture right now. They were very easy to use even in my old set up. No maintanence, works great. It all is going great with never a repair. But, you are right, at some point that inverter is going to break ( given the cobwebs and temperatures it is doing great). Hard to say on the panels, so far, so good. Probably give out a bit less power

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 5:38pm

    #11
    richcabot

    richcabot

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 05 2011

    Posts: 184

    Other types of solar power

    Have similar studies been done on mirror/turbine based solar, where the light is concentrated with mirrors onto a central tower where the resulting heat is used to boil water (or some other liquid) to feed turbines?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 6:02pm

    Reply to #10
    richcabot

    richcabot

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 05 2011

    Posts: 184

    It's a common feeling

    Yes, the dire predictions haven’t yet materialized.  It’s a combination of things.  The shale “miracle” has temporarily driven down the cost of oil. However, the price of oil is highly dependent on the marginal cost of supply.  Consumption doesn’t radically scale with price so if you can boost production slightly above demand the price plummets. 

    Ordinarily the OPEC countries would reduce production and get the price back up.  They haven’t done so.  It wouldn’t take much of a cut in production to drastically increase price.  The reduction in revenue from selling less would be more than offset by the higher price they get for what they would sell.  Besides, they would be able to sell the oil they save at a later date and get even more income.  Personally, I believe various geopolitical factors have prevented that: principally the desire of those in control to destabilize Russia and Venezuela.  They’ve failed at the first, they may be successful with the second.  Just my opinion.

    As for the looming crisis, the longer we artificially reduce price by subsidizing shale oil production with printed money the bigger the pain will be when the shale oil finally does run out.  It won’t be pretty.

    That said, the folks talking about the crisis do miss the fact that massive price increases will cause a reduction in demand (people will lose jobs, there will be serious relocation, society will break down, etc.)  This will likely cause prices to drop again.  They won’t stay down.  The most likely scenario is a cyclic behavior in price with an underlying increase each cycle.

    LesPhelps posted graphs from Limits to Growth above (I’ve posted them in other threads).  They predicted the crisis around 2020.  So far their projections have been amazingly prescient (the book was written in 1972).  Based on how things look here in 2018 they may have nailed it.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - 6:03pm

    Reply to #7
    richcabot

    richcabot

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 05 2011

    Posts: 184

    2020

    Based on their graphs 2020-2025 is going to really suck.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - 12:54pm

    #12
    climber99

    climber99

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 12 2013

    Posts: 178

    How do we renew the renewable?

    Even if we manage to build out enough renewables to go from 2% to 25% of current energy consumption, where will the energy come from to renew the renewables every 25 or so years ? Ans. We can’t when all the fossil fuel is gone.

    The only possible reason to roll out renewables @ eroei > 1 is to give us extra time in which to voluntary reduce our population to our long term (sans fossil fuel) carrying capacity, something that mankind refuses to countenance.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - 3:29pm

    Reply to #10
    MKI

    MKI

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 12 2009

    Posts: 69

    It seems like we have been hearing this for a while

    Peroron: …an energy crisis was just around the corner…first it was 2010, then 2012 then 2015 now we are here in 2018 and the trains seems to continue on. Can anyone tell me why this seems to be the case?

    Heh. Yep, it’s human nature. Facts don’t matter; we never let “data-driven” failed predilections get in the way of making new ones!

    Look, this claim of a future energy crisis goes back to the 1970s, and the corresponding stockpiling of beans, bullets, and gold. Nothing has changed since then (except a lot of people got rich).

    What is really interesting? How much economic growth has occurred since then due to technology advancement. For example, China has pumped more cement in 4 years (2011-13) than the US did in the entire 20th century. The world has never been so wealthy, nor lived so well, as today.

    More interesting? We in the US should be the very last people to be concerned about energy, since we have so many natural resources (especially energy resources). Coal, NG, nuclear, etc. We’re the breadbasket. In the event of a real crisis we will have ample warning as the resource short nations like Japan, England, Germany, etc. will look like Venezuela long before the US looks like Mexico.

    Even more fascinating? Most of the US energy dependence is wasted on unneeded transportation! We could just get out of the suburbs and start living close to town, or use NG cars, or use public transport – hell, we could cut our oil usage in half without even trying very hard or impacting GDP.

    I could go on and on, how the internet is probably more important than the printing press for economic growth, how information technology allows us to cut back on consumption without loss of quality of life, how the US has already peaked in electric consumption a decade ago, how we could all plant gardens rather than lawns and live healthier than we do now…but this would ruin the beans, bullets, and gold romance, right? Which I confess I enjoy myself :-)…

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - 11:44pm

    Reply to #2

    Brunel

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 26 2015

    Posts: 32

    cmartenson wrote: I suppose

    cmartenson wrote:

    I suppose I should be sincerely flattered by the imitation, and thankful that however inelegantly it was done the Crash Course message was picked up and carried elsewhere, and I am on some levels, but I’m still not terribly interested in promoting Morgan’s career.

    Thanks for pointing that out, what a ****!  He’s off my xmas card list!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 12:16am

    Reply to #10

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Online)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3109

    while you are going on...

    MKI-

    I could go on and on, how the internet is probably more important than the printing press for economic growth, how information technology allows us to cut back on consumption without loss of quality of life, how the US has already peaked in electric consumption a decade ago, how we could all plant gardens rather than lawns and live healthier than we do now…

    While you are going on, could you tell us the amount of time it would take for everyone to transition to the new lifestyle you describe?  And while you’re at it, describe what happens during this transition period.

    I’m sure it’s all puppies and ice cream, flip a switch, it happens overnight, right?

    I’m going to suggest it is exactly during this transition period that we need the beans, bullets, and gold.

    Here’s the thing.  Its easy to paint a picture of where nirvana is.  It is a bit more difficult – and is the job of a responsible engineering manager – to nail down the task list, cost, and schedule for each item on the list.

    As a former engineering manager, you sound exactly like my optimistic crew of engineers that imagined they could get just about anything done in about two weeks.  Of course when I got them to break the task list down, it turned into a six month schedule.

    You do know that people need to eat every single day during this transition, right?

    Just curious – were you ever in management?  Did you ever have a budget, a crew of people working for you, were you responsible for delivering the project on time?

    If you have this skillset – it isn’t even slightly evident in your posts!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 2:13am

    Reply to #10
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 859

    Special Period

    Cuba experienced just a collapse. Theirs is called the Special Period where petrol became unobtainium. It’s a quick and easy study. I study their agricultural changes to influence My farm management.

    check it out, Robie

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 7:12am

    #13

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    Great interview, and thanks

    Great interview, and thanks for the links at the end to join the group.

    I think one of the reasons there is little interest in this in the mainstream is that people have lost faith in academia. I have even heard people say on forums (forums on which people understand that the system is failing) that we should now have less emphasis on science because it has failed us!! Instead we should bring in more ? The problem is that science education is so poor these days and people just don’t understand what science is and how it works. I think people think that science is about complex math and stuff they can’t understand, but science is actually just a method of sorting through the world and testing hypotheses to see what isn’t true, and from this we are left with what we PRESUME to be true (until it can be disproven). So science is more relevant today than it ever has been. I think what is happening is that people are actually mistaking the complex jargon and math of economics as science, which could not be further from the truth. Science is clearly pointing out that most economics is complete nonsense. There was the technocratic movement in the early 1900’s which aimed to replace politicians and economists with scientists and engineers but it hasn’t held much traction. I guess we are its modern form.

    And thanks for the specifics on EROEI for solar. I have been wondering what it is, I’ll look into it more. My first impression is that you should not include the energy needed for the labour to install it because we are talking about how much energy solar panels provide to society as a whole versus if they weren’t installed and society kept on “keepin’ on” without them. And the guys (and gals) who install these things aren’t just brought into existence for the purposes of installing solar panels, then they disappear from the world again afterwards. They would need to be fed and supported regardless of whether they install solar panels or did something else. So I think the crucial part of doing accurate EROEI calculations is to be very careful about what is included and what is excluded in the calculation, exactly comparing what the input energy situation is with them, versus without them. I don’t think simply just tallying up all the receipts for a project and converting this into an equivalent energy number is a very robust way to do this, especially since my gut reaction says that a lot fo the money in society is “recycled” through velocity so I’m not sure they can all just be arithmetically added to each other. But it will be interesting digging into the specifics of this to see what I come up with.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 8:48am

    Reply to #10

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    davefairtex wrote: As a

    davefairtex wrote:

    As a former engineering manager, you sound exactly like my optimistic crew of engineers that imagined they could get just about anything done in about two weeks.  Of course when I got them to break the task list down, it turned into a six month schedule.

    lol, interesting comment. I’m an engineer doing the detailed stuff for bringing a gold mine back on line. We had a project manager last year who though we could do all the calculations and checks in a few weeks. We suggested that it was more like months. Here we are, 9 months later and we’re finally wrapping up. 

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 12:44pm

    Reply to #10
    MKI

    MKI

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 12 2009

    Posts: 69

    while you are going on...

    DFT: If you have this skillset – it isn’t even slightly evident!

    No need to be personally disparaging. I was just answering peroron2000’s question (a relevant one that everyone else here just ignored). If you see something specifically wrong with my answer, address it.

    DFT: Did you ever have a budget, a crew of people working for you, were you responsible for delivering the project on time? If you have this skillset – it isn’t even slightly evident!

    Sheese. If it makes you feel better. Yes. But this has nada to do with my points.

    While you are going on, could you tell us the amount of time it would take for everyone to transition to the new lifestyle you describe?  And while you’re at it, describe what happens during this transition period.

    First, a war (say 1941), dirty bomb (say 9/11), or disease (say flu 1918 style) is more likely to create rapid economic havoc than some “sudden” crisis due to energy. But assuming said energy crisis occurs? It’s pointless to predict, and the US is in the ideal position to hunker down and self-sustain until we re-adjust to the “new normal” anyway, which would almost surely be better than 99.9% of how humanity has lived to date. I’m not speaking theoretically: I live at 1/10 GDP by choice right now. Try it: Walk don’t drive. Hunt. Fish. Garden. Gather. Own a small home with a hand pump well. As CM would say: focus on being. Then invest in our growing economy without fear (keep 10% in physical gold just in case). Hell, it’s just money and life is too short to live in fear.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 5:20pm

    Reply to #10

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Online)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3109

    professional, not personal

    No need to be personally disparaging. I was just answering peroron2000’s question (a relevant one that everyone else here just ignored). If you see something specifically wrong with my answer, address it.

    Right.  You interpreted my criticisms as personally disparaging.  They aren’t.  Personally disparaging comments would look something like this:

    • “You’re an idiot”
    • “You are clueless”
    • “You haven’t the sense that God gave an ox.”

    I didn’t say anything like that.

    I suggested that, if you had any experience managing projects and timelines, this experience was not in evidence in any of your posts.  That’s professional disparagement.  If you take it personally, that’s not my problem.

    Now then, on to my point, which I have made before, and I’ll make again since you keep ignoring it.

    As a nation, it will take time, energy, effort, and investment to transition between the current lifestyle we have, and the lifestyle you describe.  This transition effort was laid out in the Hirsch Report back in 2005.

    In the meantime, during the transition period, people need to eat every single day.

    It is my assessment that you are glossing over a large number of important, costly, time-consuming steps that anyone who has actually managed a complex project would have been able to sort out all on their own, without me having to go into the weeds about, and then presenting us with your specific lifestyle that, once attained nationwide, would indeed bring about the nirvana you describe.

    Put more simply, here is your transition project plan, as I see it:

    1) We are here, in this high-energy place.

    2) [implied] An instantaneous, cost-free, casualty-free miracle occurs

    3) And now we’re in much lower-energy nirvana.  Gosh, wasn’t that easy?

    In the old days, we used to call it “a whole lot of hand-waving.”

    Funny thing is, I agree with much of what you say.  I just don’t like the hand-waving, because it leaves out some really, really important details.  Like time, cost, and the likely body count.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 6:28pm

    Reply to #10

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    MKI wrote: First, a war (say

    MKI wrote:

    First, a war (say 1941), dirty bomb (say 9/11), or disease (say flu 1918 style) is more likely to create rapid economic havoc than some “sudden” crisis due to energy. But assuming said energy crisis occurs? It’s pointless to predict, and the US is in the ideal position to hunker down and self-sustain until we re-adjust to the “new normal” anyway, which would almost surely be better than 99.9% of how humanity has lived to date. I’m not speaking theoretically: I live at 1/10 GDP by choice right now. Try it: Walk don’t drive. Hunt. Fish. Garden. Gather. Own a small home with a hand pump well. As CM would say: focus on being. Then invest in our growing economy without fear (keep 10% in physical gold just in case). Hell, it’s just money and life is too short to live in fear.

    The problem is, people won’t have jobs, so they can “hunker down” all they like but they won’t be able to feed themselves. 20 million people in greater LA will not be able to “Hunt. Fish. Garden. Gather. Own a small home with a hand pump well.” I guess they could focus as you say on “being” hungry. I think you have a skewed understanding of how modern society works, being form Alaska with lots of wild lands to support you.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - 7:13pm

    #14
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 112

    Correction?

    Does anyone besides me see a need to correct the Crash Course section on EROEI https://www.peakprosperity.com/video/85855/playlist/92161/crash-course-c….

    The EROEI for solar in the chapter is given at 21:1 and for wind 30:1. In light of this interview perhaps someone should revisit and revise the material in that chapter. Or maybe dispute the numbers presented in the interview.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - 4:10am

    Reply to #14

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4505

    We'll catch that on the next update

    Mohammed Mast wrote:

    Does anyone besides me see a need to correct the Crash Course section on EROEI https://www.peakprosperity.com/video/85855/playlist/92161/crash-course-c….

    The EROEI for solar in the chapter is given at 21:1 and for wind 30:1. In light of this interview perhaps someone should revisit and revise the material in that chapter. Or maybe dispute the numbers presented in the interview.

    Thanks for pointing that out.  Surprisingly, that was the best available data back in 2014 when the last main revision of the on-line Crash Course was undertaken.

    There will have to be lots of updates for oil, money printing, debt levels….

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - 11:06am

    Reply to #10
    MKI

    MKI

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 12 2009

    Posts: 69

    A skewed understanding of how modern society works

    MBC: people won’t have jobs, so they can “hunker down” all they like but they won’t be able to feed themselves.

    Many can’t feed themselves nor find jobs right now – ever notice the number of people on public assistance? This doesn’t change the fact America is the world’s largest food exporter! We also have lots of NG for fertilizer, enough for the rest of our lives. So if we get into trouble with our bread and circuses? Well, the rest of the world will be in full fledged civil war by then. So in this supposed crisis the US will merely continue to hand out free food to people who don’t have jobs. Same old same old.

    MBC: you have a skewed understanding of how modern society work

    My “understanding of how modern society works” is exactly what allows me to live differently. Look, this isn’t debatable: I’ve been empirically proven accurate on this subject over the last three decades (to my profit). It’s my interlocutors who have something to prove. But there is certainly nada preventing others from doing the same except sloppy ways of thinking leading to poor understanding. Especially the 20 million in LA; what a great climate and opportunity for anyone with the right way of thinking (which is in very short supply today, I’m afraid). Every location has it’s strengths and weaknesses; it’s the people and their thinking that are the problem. It’s why Japan is rich and Venezuela is poor. One is resource poor yet smart and hardworking, while the later is resource heavy and dirt poor. It’s not about resources. It’s about understanding, which is the most important “resource” a people has.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 7:06am

    Reply to #3

    Andy_in_Hawick

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2009

    Posts: 12

    Scotland must be sunnier than the place studied

    Hi Chris

    I agree that EROEI for solar panels is not as great as it might be but I’m not convinced by these sceptical figures (and note that the paper seeks to make disparaging comparisons of PV versus nuclear generation). Even if we accept energy costs like 505kWh/m² for invested labour (and that means about 500 man-days of work per square metre or 800 days for a standard 1.6 x 1m panel because one kilowatt-hour is about what a fit labourer can output during a working day), the output figures that I am achieving on my small home array is significantly more than 2M2Wh/m² noted in the extract above.

    I have 17 panels rated at 185W (Sharp NU185) measuring approx 1m by 1300mm, or about 1.3m² each and therefore a total of 22m². Installed in Jun 2011, they have averaged over 2M7Wh per year or over 120kWk/m² per annum. Even if the 2M66Wh/m² figure is correct for the embodied energy, that is a payback period of 22 years, which is fine. They have shown no measurable performance drop-off to date and are guaranteed to produce at least 90% of rated output by year 20 (from memory). I fully expect them to last at least 30 years, by which time the EROEI will be over 1.3. I know that this is not great but it is certainly not less than unity as Ferroni & Hopkirk’s paper tries to make out.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 7:16am

    Reply to #5

    Andy_in_Hawick

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2009

    Posts: 12

    Gas (and other fossil fuels)

    Gas (and other fossil fuels) have been (and still are) significantly subsidised, which is why gas turbines have been a cheap way of producing electricity. Wind and solar (along with the other ‘renewables’) have no fuel cost, which is why new installations are almost certainly better value (using whatever metric) than fuel-burning generators.

    If I were you, I would ask around for other quotes as $3.20/Watt installed is too expensive and you should be able to get better than that; certainly under $2/W.

    Solar PV is a reasonable investment as you say and solar thermal even better.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 7:34am

    Reply to #9

    Andy_in_Hawick

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2009

    Posts: 12

    Rev Malthus was incorrect in

    Rev Malthus was incorrect in his analysis and the problem is not the number of people on the planet, it is the consumption and waste of [some] people. 

    Check out: https://overpopulationisamyth.com which robustly analyses the various arguments around overpopulation and debunks them.

    Until we are all thinking more carefully about what we eat (whether it embodies fertiliser and fossil fuels), buy, how we work, travel and live, we can’t be pointing the finger at others saying that they shouldn’t exist.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 8:21am

    #15

    Andy_in_Hawick

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2009

    Posts: 12

    Energy and exergy

    An interesting part of the discussion was when Dr Hall started adding in ‘fudge factors’ to correct for the fact that electricity is more useful than many other forms of energy and therefore the EROEI needs to be adjusted accordingly. This is exactly what Exergy tries to account for. In a practical sense, it’s much harder to use but in these types of analyses is much more meaningful.

    Exergy takes account of the entropy and evaluates the usable content of the energy. Hence, 1kWh of electricity can achieve more than 1kWh of oil or gas, which in turn is more useful than 10 litres of boiling water, which is more useful than 100 litres of tepid water.

    This is how heat pumps achieve their ‘magic’ of providing two to seven kWh for each kWh input. This is also why electric vehicles can travel three or four times as far with 36 kilowatt-hours of charge as an internal combustion engine car can drive on a gallon of petrol.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 10:22am

    Reply to #10

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    MKI wrote:Many can't feed

    MKI wrote:

    Many can’t feed themselves nor find jobs right now – ever notice the number of people on public assistance? This doesn’t change the fact America is the world’s largest food exporter! We also have lots of NG for fertilizer, enough for the rest of our lives. So if we get into trouble with our bread and circuses? Well, the rest of the world will be in full fledged civil war by then. So in this supposed crisis the US will merely continue to hand out free food to people who don’t have jobs. Same old same old.

    Exactly. That’s what I addressed in a comment a few interviews ago:

    Quote:

    I think there may be a possible “positive” way out of this crash scenario. Since America is self sufficient in producing food, there is no fundamental need for people to starve. So the challenge would be getting the food to the people when unemployment hits 80% and they can’t buy it. If the government / military set up a basic universal income system, or food stamps for everyone, and tasked the military with taking over food production and delivering it to the cities and dispensing it, then potentially we could avoid mass chaos. But this would be eerily communist and I don’t think it would be very stable, certainly not a nice outcome.

    I do not see this as simple as the magic wand waving you seem to be endorsing. History tells us that monetary crashes happen quickly, usually less than a year, and sometimes in a day. I am expecting this one to take in the order of days or possibly weeks, because it is so unstable and overstretched. Furthermore, it is the solvency of the US government (and all western governments) that will be lost. Currently, food stamps are paid for by the US Government, I presume (I’m not an American on food stamps so I don’t really know). So the first problem is, where is the government going to get the funds to pay for food stamps to private food companies in exchange for food? Maybe a new arrangement will be made, but that will take significant time, much longer than the average person can go without food. Secondly, it’s one thing to provide food stamps to 15% of the population, or whatever it is today, versus 80%. How is it going to be distributed? Is the military set up for this? Even if it was, can we look to other examples through history of countries with the government / military feeding the population from the back of trucks? That’s the kind of social chaos we can expect. You are glossing over some monumental problems like it’s a cartoon.

    Quote:

    I’ve been empirically proven accurate on this subject over the last three decades (to my profit). It’s my interlocutors who have something to prove. But there is certainly nada preventing others from doing the same except sloppy ways of thinking leading to poor understanding. Especially the 20 million in LA; what a great climate and opportunity for anyone with the right way of thinking (which is in very short supply today, I’m afraid). Every location has it’s strengths and weaknesses; it’s the people and their thinking that are the problem. It’s why Japan is rich and Venezuela is poor. One is resource poor yet smart and hardworking, while the later is resource heavy and dirt poor. It’s not about resources. It’s about understanding, which is the most important “resource” a people has.

    Your successful investment strategy over the last decades is almost entirely a result of 1) US dollar reserve currency status with trade deficit, and 2) unprecedented money printing over the last 10 years which has directly resulted in a stock market bubble culminating with absurd P/E ratios over 200 for companies that actually lose money every year based on a true accounting measure.

    Comparing Japan to Venezuela is not going to get you very far. Anyone who has spent time objectively studying Venezuela knows that the reason their currency collapsed is because they stood up to the western banking cartel and attempted to set up a gold backed currency and oil trade system outside of the US dollar. The western cartel retaliated. Venezuela does not have the ability to print money. On the other hand, Japan has been America’s lap dog since the end of WW2 and has fully participated in the western gold cartel. They not only have the ability to print money, but they do it right along with the Fed, taking over this role in times when the Fed tries to convince the world that it is scaling back its money printing; when in fact all it’s doing is telling Japan to do it instead for a while.

    If I was to hedge my bets about where would be a better place to be after the currency collapse, I’d choose Venezuela over Japan.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - 10:40am

    Reply to #9

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    Andy_in_Hawick wrote: Rev

    Andy_in_Hawick wrote:

    Rev Malthus was incorrect in his analysis and the problem is not the number of people on the planet, it is the consumption and waste of [some] people. 

    Check out: https://overpopulationisamyth.com which robustly analyses the various arguments around overpopulation and debunks them.

    Until we are all thinking more carefully about what we eat (whether it embodies fertiliser and fossil fuels), buy, how we work, travel and live, we can’t be pointing the finger at others saying that they shouldn’t exist.

    Are you serious? You actually take those videos seriously? LOL I wouldn’t call them “robust” and I wonder what their true motivation is and who paid for their production.

    Entirely omitted is a mention of the amount of fossil fuel energy embedded in every calorie you eat, something like 10 calories of external energy for every 1 of food energy (they gloss over it with the term “modern agricultural methods”, which aren’t modern at all because they are dependent on ancient fossil fuels). This is the reverse of what it was back in Malthus’ time where agriculture was a net supplier of energy.

    Malthus’ problem was that he did not anticipate and factor in these external energy inputs, which basically cream off 100 million years of the planet’s net primary production in the form of concentrated fossil fuels, and cram it into a couple centuries.

    The question is, when fossil fuels run out, which they inevitably will at some point (or merely peak, which is currently the focus of discussion), will there be another energy source that can step in and take over their role in subsidizing food production? This website spends a lot off time analyzing that and it seems that the answer is definitely “no” without some miraculous new technology emerging which seems “unlikely”.

    The “facts” (unlike the “facts” those videos show) is that without fossil fuels, agricultural production would be less than what it was in Malthus’ day and the world would be even more overpopulated than he expected it to be.

    The “fact” is that, in the end, animal populations always revert back to the long term carrying capacity of the ecosystem supporting them. The long term carrying capacity of Planet Earth does not include inputs from fossil fuels.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - 7:42am

    #16
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Complex Issue

    Seems we are just scratching the surface of a very important topic.  The difficulty with such the subject of how we should be living our lives and what the future holds for us, is that everybody has strong opinions, yet the amount of information collection and processing needed to draw definitive and accurate conclusions is nothing short of mind boggling.  This is certainly not the beginnings of an argument that the future is unknowable at any level, but that the belief that we can know the texture and timing in detail of future events is somewhat absurd (Thank god that is true, imagine an existence where the future is already known).

     Most often opinions about future events seem to be driven by justified anger and frustration about the current state of affairs and the future retribution we would like to see, rather than an objective view of what facts we can manage to assemble and digest to create a series of possible scenarios.  That is certainly a forgivable sin, one which I have been guilty of many times. Worse though, I think, are those who are to lazy to think deeply about life and the future consequences of current actions, who rely on the accuracy of others prognostications to determine what might be around the corner waiting for us.  Or perhaps more likely, may feel guilty about the message some prognostications carry, and use the inaccuracy in timing to justify their own inaction.

    And why all the emphasis on the timing of events anyway?  Have we all turned into bankers, sitting on the sidelines, trying to connive a way to profit form events, regardless of what happens?  Do we believe in anything any more?  What about fighting for a lost cause, that may never come to pass, because it’s the right thing to do in our own opinion?  Is that a waste of time?

    I do believe that modern industrial agriculture is one of the most destructive inventions human beings have ever come up with.  Its EROEI is definitely in deeply negative territory, forget about 0.8, its probably way south of 0.1.  The idea of taking a large swath of the biosphere and trying to run it on nonrenewable energy to produce food is the definition of insanity,  especially when we have models that are much more productive and sustainable to boot, without exploding human health consequence driven by the current system.  Talk about an elephant in the room, that is the biggest one in the room by a wide shot.  If I made a prediction that half of all food produced by the year 2050 would be coming from smaller scale farming operations that were founded on sustainable principals and was wrong would it mean that sustainable farming was a bad idea?

    Which gets me around to the topic at hand.  The needed EROEI of any technology is deeply dependent on the society in which it is embedded.  If large swaths of the population are living in McMansions, driving long distances in SUV’s to destructive nonprodcutive (in the true sense of the meaning productive, not just income producing) jobs, and the rest of your population have the consumptive habits, trying to mimic that same lifestyle, then your energy producing technology better have a pretty high EROEI, probably north of 10 (that’s a wag of course). You’ll have of host of other problems that energy will not solve of course.  But if you have a population that aspires to live sustainably and gets close to that goal, then EROEI’s just north of 1.0 may be just fine, even less than one in some limited instances.  Think about a small rural farming family that is a net producer of energy, maybe at a ration of 5:1, then perhaps reducing their net output to 4:1 and having excess energy investing in electrical energy generation, even at a loss may make perfectly good sense.

    And how this transition will play out, who knows, and how important is that knowledge anyway.  We all have plenty to do right now. Anybody sitting around because you don’t know what’s going to happen in ten years?  And if people are living a frivolous life without meaning, is scaring then about the future going to work, I’m not so sure.  Those who think that population is a problem, well you can always take the problem into your own hands

    Lets debate how we get rationally to next month, to next year and then beyond, the perfect is the enemy of the good. And any step in the right direction, is well, a step in the right direction, lets celebrate that, and motivate each other to do more.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - 2:57pm

    Reply to #14
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 112

    Numbers

    So just where did the numbers come from that are in the CC? Seems like a huge disparity to me. Did things get that bad in such a short time or were the numbers bad to begin with? 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - 8:34pm

    Reply to #9

    Empirical Spiritual

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 01 2012

    Posts: 14

    https://www.pop.org/simple/ou

    https://www.pop.org/simple/our-mission/

    Overpopulation is a Myth is run by Population Research Institute. These guys seem to be a Catholic-based group with a pro-life mission. I have plenty of sympathy with their aversion to governments meddling in people’s lives and that seems to be much of their concern (China’s one child policy etc).

    However, I am not aware of any of the major religions being concerned with overpopulation or carrying capacity of the planet etc. Genesis speaks about, go forth and multiply…fill the world etc. When this was written in the Bronze Age that would not have been much of a problem, as nature kept populations in check. The math today is completely different with 7.6BN people in the world.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - 1:44pm

    #17

    fkhalichi

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 14 2017

    Posts: 1

    Question

    Dr. Hall stated “Now, some people have argued, some people I respect, have argued that we should multiply the electricity by three because if you’re putting in fossil fuel to make everything that you use – oil and gas and coal – and you’re producing electricity, then you should weight the electricity accordingly.”  I don’t quite understand this argument. 

    Can someone kindly elaborate and explain?  I would highly appreciate it.  Thanks.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - 5:42pm

    Reply to #17

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    fkhalichi wrote: Dr. Hall

    fkhalichi wrote:

    Dr. Hall stated “Now, some people have argued, some people I respect, have argued that we should multiply the electricity by three because if you’re putting in fossil fuel to make everything that you use – oil and gas and coal – and you’re producing electricity, then you should weight the electricity accordingly.”  I don’t quite understand this argument. 

    Can someone kindly elaborate and explain?  I would highly appreciate it.  Thanks.

    The efficiency of making electricity from burning stuff is only 30-60% of the energy you get out of burning the fossil fuels due to thermodynamic laws. The difference is waste heat. 3x seems a bit excessive, maybe 2x is more realistic.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_efficiency

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - 7:05pm

    #18
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 514

    Efficiency of Battery-operated-battery chargers

    When you consider a ton of coal has about 7500 Btu’s in it, which will be converted into electricity at, on average, 33%, that works out to around 2200 KwH’s (if I did my math right). Now add in all the associated costs of getting it to the power plant and you will scratch your head when you realize how blest we are having the abundance of cheap energy to power our electric tooth brushes! (Sorry for the sarcasm).

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 18, 2018 - 9:03am

    #19

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 67

    Shale Driller To Become Profitable [giggles] For First Time

    Hear ye, hear ye!

    https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/US-Shale-Drillers-To-Become-Profitable-For-The-First-Time.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+oilpricecom+%28Oil+Price.com+Daily+News+Update%29

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 20, 2018 - 5:15am

    Reply to #3
    Cariolian Starfighter

    Cariolian Starfighter

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 31 2017

    Posts: 10

    Wrong study?

    Chris, did you link to the wrong study?  This one tears up the analysis that says EROI is <1, and puts it at 7-8.  In any case, it shows how complicated this all is, and how there is not good agreement between experts.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 21, 2018 - 11:41am

    Reply to #3

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4505

    Right Study

    Cariolian Starfighter wrote:

    Chris, did you link to the wrong study?  This one tears up the analysis that says EROI is <1, and puts it at 7-8.  In any case, it shows how complicated this all is, and how there is not good agreement between experts.

    Nope. 

    I linked the correct one.  No confusion.  

    To assure no confusion, I even quoted the entire conclusion of the study.

    Here it is again.

    Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation

    July 2016

    (Lots and lots of geeky math and explorations of study boundaries removed here…)

    Conclusion

    The calculated value for ERoEI is dimensionless, constituting the energy return (2203 kW he/m2) divided by the energy invested (2664 kW he/m2) – a ratio of 0.82.

    It is estimated that these numbers could have an error of ±15%, so that, despite a string of optimistic choices resulting in low values of energy investments, the ERoEI is significantly below 1.

    In other words, an electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink or a non-sustainable NET ENERGY LOSS. The methodology recommended by the expert working group of the IEA appears to yield EROI levels which lie between 5 and 6, but which are really not meaningful for determining the efficiency, sustainability and affordability of an energy source. The main conclusions to be drawn are:

    • The result of rigorously calculating the “extended ERoEI” for regions of moderate insolation levels as experienced in Switzerland and Germany proves to be very revealing. It indicates that, at least at today’s state of development, the PV technology cannot offer an energy source but a NET ENERGY LOSS, since its ERoEIEXT is not only very far from the minimum value of 5 for sustainability suggested by Murphy and Hall (2011), but is less than 1.
    • Our advanced societies can only continue to develop if a surplus of energy is available, but it has become clear that photovoltaic energy at least will not help in any way to replace the fossil fuel. On the contrary we find ourselves suffering increased dependence on fossil energy. Even if we were to select, or be forced to live in a simpler, less rapidly expanding economic environment, photovoltaic technology would not be a wise choice for helping to deliver affordable, environmentally favourable and reliable electricity regions of low, or even moderate insolation, since it involves an extremely high expenditure of material, human and capital resources.
    • Research and development should however, be continued in order in future to have more efficient conversion from sunlight to electricity and a cheaper, more reliable PV-technology offering increased efficiency and a longer, failure-free lifetime. The market will then develop naturally.

    I have literally zero idea where you got “EROI 7-8” from.  Perhaps you’d be so kind as to quote the appropriate text?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 22, 2018 - 9:02am

    Reply to #3
    Cariolian Starfighter

    Cariolian Starfighter

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 31 2017

    Posts: 10

    Different Article!

    I see  – I read the wrong article at your link!  But this goes to show how complicated this all is, I think I would have to be an expert in Solar PV ERoEI to really be able to tell which paper I feel is correct (I said “feel”, because despite being an electrical engineer, this is not my field).  It used to be very important to me to understand if solar can “save us” – but I’ve gradually moved into the doomer camp (I feel Alice Friedemann does a fantastic job of explaining this), and am (slowly) preparing my family for the future.

    I was reading: Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation: A comprehensive response

    Conclusions:

    Our revised EROI and EROIEXT values for PV systems in Switzerland,3 calculated according to the formula adopted by Ferroni and Hopkirk (i.e., as the ratio of the total electrical output to the ‘equivalent electrical energy’ investment), but based on the arguments and numbers presented in this paper are, respectively, EROI≈9–10 (when adhering to widely adopted ‘conventional’ system boundaries as recommended by the IEA (Raugei et al., 2016)) and EROIEXT≈7–8 (when instead adopting ‘extended’ system boundaries that also include the energy investments for service inputs such as ‘project management’ and insurance). It is especially noteworthy that even the latter EROIEXT range is one order of magnitude higher than 0.8 which was obtained by Ferroni and Hopkirk.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 22, 2018 - 9:02am

    Reply to #3
    Cariolian Starfighter

    Cariolian Starfighter

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 31 2017

    Posts: 10

    Different Article!

    I see  – I read the wrong article at your link!  But this goes to show how complicated this all is, I think I would have to be an expert in Solar PV ERoEI to really be able to tell which paper I feel is correct (I said “feel”, because despite being an electrical engineer, this is not my field).  It used to be very important to me to understand if solar can “save us” – but I’ve gradually moved into the doomer camp (I feel Alice Friedemann does a fantastic job of explaining this), and am (slowly) preparing my family for the future.

    I was reading: Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation: A comprehensive response

    Conclusions:

    Our revised EROI and EROIEXT values for PV systems in Switzerland,3 calculated according to the formula adopted by Ferroni and Hopkirk (i.e., as the ratio of the total electrical output to the ‘equivalent electrical energy’ investment), but based on the arguments and numbers presented in this paper are, respectively, EROI≈9–10 (when adhering to widely adopted ‘conventional’ system boundaries as recommended by the IEA (Raugei et al., 2016)) and EROIEXT≈7–8 (when instead adopting ‘extended’ system boundaries that also include the energy investments for service inputs such as ‘project management’ and insurance). It is especially noteworthy that even the latter EROIEXT range is one order of magnitude higher than 0.8 which was obtained by Ferroni and Hopkirk.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Apr 22, 2018 - 10:47pm

    #20
    Mejsel

    Mejsel

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 19 2012

    Posts: 0

    Confusing information - Old book and outdated info on Solar PV?

    Chris,

    Nice interview and very relevant to get Dr. Hall on the podcast. I have been following his work since 2013 and also the development of EROI on energy systems. Two things from the interview. 

    1. I was happy to hear about a new book from Dr. Hall. He mentions early in the interview:

    and I’ll put in a plug for my new book, Energy and the Wealth of Nations; An Introduction to Biophysical Economics that’s available from Springer. And it will be out almost as we speak. And all of these concepts are developing in excruciating detail there.”

    I cannot find a new book recently out. I already own and bought his book about Energy which came out in 2011. Great if you could clarify since I would like to check the “new” book out?

    2. The information on EROI on solar I think should be read with caution. The Spain experience should be looked into with new eyes since the panels and systems have improved significantly since then. The efficiency of panels has tripled and continues to do so. Additionally, the new type of panels called Perovskite is developing that use one-tenth of the energy to be produced. Fair enough they do not work yet in industrial settings, but looks promising. 

    So, to be fair to your audience I think it is important to not only talk about doom and gloom since there are technologies on the horizon that could be feasible in a future energy system. All these systems should be looked at through a lens of EROI testing. We must manage to use the limited fossil energy resources (with high EROI)  we have left and invest them a renewable energy system that can function on a more limited EROI. 

    Thanks!

    Login or Register to post comments

Login or Register to post comments